Those of you who are adept at the Qabalistic Tarot will know that the paths between the spheres are numbered 11-32, in what is known as the "key scale". This is the organizational principle behind Aleister Crowley's 777, for example. There has, however been some question as to what the logic of this numbering is. It turns out that the mainstream allocation of number-to-path, is almost, but not entirely consistent, and that if it were totally consistent, then there would be several paths (and Tarot Majors) connecting different spheres on the tree of life than we are used to seeing them connect. This has huge implications for how we interpret the Tarot.

A fully consistent numbering has been known for quite some time in esoteric circles, but has not been adopted by mainstream occultists - either because they have not heard of it, or because they do not understand it and are comfortable with what they have been taught.

The key to this system is called the Principle of Proximity - if you assume the 10 Sephiroth in the usual arrangement - with the same configuration of paths, then you can start in Kether, and ask: which of the outgoing paths goes to the sphere that is closest in number to Kether's? (1). The answer is Chockmah (2), since 2 is closer to 1 than either 6 (Tipareth) or 3 (Binah). The path running from (1) to (2) thus gets the number 11, and is assigned to the Fool. You then exhaust all the outgoing paths in this manner, and proceed to Chockmah, then Binah, and so on, down the Tree numbering the paths in order by how close their number is to the current sphere.

If this is done, it will be found that in three places on the tree, the Principle of Proximity demands that we switch two paths, and thus 6 tarot trumps will end up connecting between different Spheres than is commonly assumed. These are paths 15,16,17,18, 24, and 25. Test it and see.

So: If you proximize the tree, you will find that the Hierophant now runs between Chockmah (2) and Tipareth (6), the Emperor now runs between Chockmah (2) and Chesed (4), The Lovers runs between Binah (3) and Geburah (5) and the Chariot runs between Binah (3) and Tipareth (6). These are all inversions of the usual order.

Finally, and perhaps most notably, the Devil now runs between Tipareth (6) and Yesod (9), and Temperance runs between Tipareth (6) and Hod ( 8 ).

If you are like me, you will be a little shocked (and maybe hesitant) at this new arrangement - it involves some dramatic changes to the philosophical underpinnings of the Qabalistic Tarot as it is commonly taught. The Devil, for example, is now on the middle pillar. It will take a commitment to logic over tradition to make this shift in perspective, since, at least initially, it seems as if there may be some “scary” implications. I assure you these are not the monsters they appear to be – but then, what is my assurance really worth, at the end of the day? You must decide for yourself.

Of course, a small book could be written on the implications of these changes - certainly more than fits this post – so instead of that, I will leave you with the raw schematics, and with the suggestion that the proximized tree is much more consistent and "solid". For those using my other works - calendrics and such - it is quite essential to apply the proximized tree - it will withstand currents that the mainstream tree will not. For those not directly involved in my work, and only perusing these writing from a position of curiosity: I cannot insist, but strongly urge you to try the Proximity Principle exercise yourself, and give deep consideration to which of the two tree numberings you prefer. Compare, contrast, consider: you may be surprised to discover a valuable new perspective.

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